The Hawaiian Flag – How Did the Hawaii State Flag Come To Be and What Does It Mean

Hawaii flag meaning
Categorized as Hawaiian History

When you travel in Hawaii, perhaps staying at Big Island Condo or a KauaiN Vacation Rental, you will likely see the Hawaii State Flag flying over homes and buildings. The Hawaiian flag design is also seen on everything from t-shirts to bumper stickers displaying “Hawaiian pride.”

Hawaiian Flag Meaning

The Hawaiian flag features red, white, and blue stripes. Red signifies the Hawaiian god, white symbolizes truth, and blue represents the beautiful ocean surrounding Hawaii. A second theory says that the red, white, and blue colors came from America, Britain, and France, all competing for control of Hawaii during its history. 

What Does The Hawaiian Flag Look Like?

The Hawaii flag has eight horizontal stripes that alternate between white, red, and blue in a sequence. The Union Jack flag of the United Kingdom appears in its canton, with a field of blue charged with a compound saltire (crossing) of alternating white and red.

Story of Hawaiian Flag

Have you ever wondered how the design of the Hawaii State Flag came to be? It all began in 1794 when King Kamehameha I received a British flag (a Union Jack) gift from British Captain George Vancouver. Kamehameha and Vancouver had become friends, and King Kamehameha wanted assurance that Hawaii would be under British protection.

Though King Kamehameha I flew his British flag for the next 22 years at different locations in the Hawaiian Islands, it is unknown what he considered this flag to represent because the cession agreement with Vancouver was never officially acknowledged by the British Parliament.

By 1816, a unique Hawaiian flag had been created, though its origins are unknown. It is believed that King Kamehameha I had some help from various people in creating this Hawaiian flag.

The upper left corner of the flag is a British Union Jack, though it is unknown if the Jack was intended to represent King Kamehameha’s belief that the Hawaiian Islands were under British protection or perhaps it was just a sign of Kamehameha’s respect for Captain Vancouver.

Alexander Adams is thought to be the person who first placed the Union Jack in the flag’s upper left corner. Adams first came to the Hawaiian Islands in 1810 aboard the ship Albatross and was soon placed in charge of several ships owned by Kamehameha.

Before the Hawaiian flag was created, the Hawaiian people had not used flags, at least not like other major nations used flags to symbolize their countries. As commander of the sandalwood trading fleet of Kamehameha, Adams sailed to China in 1817 with a cargo of sandalwood but was denied entry into the harbor at Macao because the ship’s flag was not acknowledged. This was the first time the flag of Hawaii was flown on a vessel sailing to a foreign port.

The Hawaiian flag’s eight horizontal stripes are said to represent the eight main Hawaiian Islands. The flag’s red stripes are said to symbolize Hawaii gods, while the white represents truth, and the blue signifies the ocean.

The Hawaiian flag originally represented the Kingdom of Hawaii. After the overthrow of the monarchy, the flag came to represent the Republic and then the Territory of Hawaii. Eventually, it represented the State of Hawaii. There was originally a ninth stripe, but it was reduced to just eight after statehood.

And so that is the story of Hawaii’s State Flag.

Did you know this about Hawaiian State Flag?

  • The Hawaiian state flag is the only flag in the nation that features the flag of another country. 
  • “The Hawaiian flag is among the most iconic and recognizable in the U.S., being noted by vexillologists for its design and aesthetics” – source Wikipedia.
  • 31st July is designated as Hawaiian Flag Day or Ka Hae Hawai’i Day